Monday, June 4, 2007

Harry Potter: What Does David J. Meyer Have To Say?

A peculiar tract “Harry Potter: What Does God Have To Say?” has circulated around the web since 2000. Written after the publication of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, this tract argues that the Harry Potter novels are “orientational and instructional manuals of witchcraft woven into the format of entertainment”. The author is David J. Meyer, a former occultist, now Pentecostal minister who founded Last Trumpet Ministries, which publishes a monthly newsletter that is circulated around the world. Meyer’s ministry focuses on exposing the dangers of the occult and secret societies. The track makes many claims that are at the surface laughable but also betray a disturbing use of fear and misinformation to seduce the reader into believing what it says about Harry Potter.

According to Meyer’s tract, the Harry Potter novels are manuals of witchcraft in the guise of entertaining reading for children and the implications for this are dire since “[i]n order to succeed in bringing witchcraft to the world and thus complete satanic control, an entire generation would have to be induced and taught to think like witches, talk like witches, dress like witches, and act like witches”. Meyer essentially believes that an Illuminist conspiracy exists to bring “forth a one-world religion with a cleverly concealed element of occultism interwoven in its teachings”. One of the early signs of this “satanic set-up” is the infusion of Eastern and New Age teachings into a compromising Church. Keep in mind that there is no way to prove Meyer’s conspiracy theories because they are just that, conspiracy theories.

When Meyer writes that the Harry Potter novels are training manuals for witchcraft, he means specifically Wicca. Space here will not permit me to fully examine this claim but I will go through a few key differences. The moon is very important in Wicca because it represents the Mother Goddess. Since the moon is considered by Wiccans to affect people’s emotions and give off energy, they perform many of their rituals around the four general phases of the moon: the full moon, the waning moon, the new moon, and the waxing moon. Meanwhile in Harry Potter, the moon does not figure prominently in any ritualistic fashion. The only time the moon plays a role is in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban where the character Professor Remus J. Lupin transfigures into a werewolf (an imaginary creature in mythology and folklore) at every full moon. Not only are there no Esbat ritual celebrations in Harry Potter but there is no worship of the Mother Goddess either. One other crucial difference is magic. Wiccans do not have any special powers but rather they tap into the energy of Nature. In contrast the characters in Harry Potter are simply born with magical ability as evident by J.K. Rowling's comment on her website that “magic is a dominant and resilient gene”. This is certainly comparable to the mutants in the X-Men movies and comics rather than real life witchcraft. It is because of these and other differences that led Catherine Edwards Sanders to write, “The stories and themes that fill the pages of the Harry Potter books have little to do with Wicca at all, in fact” (Wicca’s Charm, Shaw Books: Colorado Springs, 2005, pg. 33).

The differences between Harry Potter and Wicca calls into question Meyer’s claim that “[a]s a former witch, I can speak with authority when I say that I have examined the works of Rowling and that the Harry Potter books are training manuals for the occult”. We can even be more skeptical of Meyer’s “authority” when he posits that the following words, “Azkaban”, “Circe”, “Draco”, “Erised”, “Hermes”, and “Slytherin” are referring to real demons. Nothing could be further from the truth. Three of the these words are made up. Azkaban is Harry Potter’s version of Alcatraz prison, Slytherin is the name of one of the four houses at Hogwarts, and Erised is simply desire spelled backwards. There is no way that these three words refer to anything in the demonic realm. Now a case can be made for Circe and Hermes, both of whom are deities in Greek mythology. Circe was a goddess living on the isle of Aeaea who in Homer’s Odyssey she transforms all of Odysseus’ men into animals. After Odysseus is given the herb moly by the god Hermes and is immune to Circe’s potions, the goddess (astonished and impressed) falls in love with Odysseus and frees his men. Hermes was a god who lived on Mount Olympus and was known as the messenger of the gods. Since Circe and Hermes are deities, one can argue that they are demons but that would be stretching it because they are mythological characters. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8.4-6 that idols are nothing in this world compared to the reality of the one God of the Christian faith. The fact that Circe and Hermes were deities in the Greek world is inconsequential to our discussion of Harry Potter because Greek mythology is part of our literary tradition which JKR taps into, and is not indicative of any ancient world pagan reality today. Besides out of the two, Circe appears in passing on a Chocolate Frog trading card in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and is not even important to the content of the novels. Finally Draco just means dragon in Latin and is the name of a character in the novels. It is clear that these six words are not the names of real demons and Meyer is grasping at straws here.

Throughout the rest of the tract, Meyer makes inaccurate statements about Wicca. For one thing, he is content to equate Wicca with Satanism. Consider this statement:

As a real witch, I learned about the two sides of “the force.” Apparently, so do many “Christian” leaders. When real witches have sabats and esbats and meet as a coven, they greet each other by saying “Blessed be”, and when they part, they say “The Force be with you.” Both sides of this “Force” are Satan. It is not a good side of the force that overcomes the bad side of the force, but rather it’s the blood of Jesus Christ that destroys both supposed sides of the satanic “Force.”
This flies in the face of Wiccans who urge that Wicca is not Satanism. For one thing Wiccans do not believe in Satan, whom they see as part of the Christian tradition and not theirs. Because there is no Satan, Wicca do not believe in the concept of absolute good or evil and to say that Wiccans worship Satan is inaccurate. Besides Satanism is very different from Wicca. Defining Satanism can be problematic but Wikipedia comments on the various meanings:

These range from the obviously fanatiс sects to the groups of people in search of themselves; from the literal deistic worship of a malevolent spiritual being (Theistic Satanism) to the monography of the atheistic philosopher; from a subversive ritual performance stressing the mockery of Christian symbols (most notably the Black Mass) to denying all rituals; from the claimed rediscovery of an ancient but misunderstood religion (e.g. Setianism, associated with the Egyptian god Set who is conflated by some with the biblical Satan) to the exaltation of hedonistic recreation and the celebration of selfishness and pleasure.
Satanism was coined around the end of the Middle Ages to indicate a group aimed at destroying Christianity and setting up the worship of Satan. Christian rituals such as the Eucharist were mocked while orgies and human sacrifice were part of the macabre Black Mass. Of course this brand of Satanism never existed and has been regulated to the status of urban legend even though people still fear this religious group as evident by the Satanic panic in the 1980's. Anton LaVey’s version of Satanism is merely a philosophy that is highly critical of Christianity and does not worship Satan but rather sees Satan as the human instinct (emphasis on lust and desires) within ourselves. A key difference between Wicca and LaVey’s Satanism is that Wiccans worship a god and goddess while Satanists revere themselves as god. Despite this Meyer continues to push the Wicca equals Satanism comparison by writing:
High level witches believe that there are seven satanic princes and that the seventh, which is assigned to Christians, has no name. In coven meetings, he is called “the nameless one.” In the Harry Potter books, there is a character called “Voldemort.” The pronunciation guide says of this being “He who must not be named.”
Now there are no “seven satanic princes” in Wicca because once again Wicca is not Satanism. I cannot emphasize this enough. However Meyer's notion that seven satanic princes exist is a very curious belief and I wonder where he got this idea from because it has no parallel in Wicca. I have two suggestions. The first being that Daniel 10.13 says Michael is “one of the chief princes” and Jewish lore (also later Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition) says that there seven archangels. Since there are evil angelic princes in Daniel 10 as evidenced by the presence of the “prince of Persia” and the “prince of Greece”; perhaps there are seven anti-archangels in the hierarchical structure of Satan’s kingdom. The second place is probably Revelation 17.9-11:

This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction.

The language in Revelation is eerily similar to Meyer's especially in regards to the seventh prince except that John calls him a king. I am not saying that Revelation’s seventh king is the same as Meyer’s seventh prince but the language and emphasis is similar so as to suggest some borrowing on Meyer’s part. This mysterious seventh prince with no name cannot be associated with Christianity as Meyer argues because Wicca does not believe in the Christian tradition so how can they have a prince that represents Christianity? Wicca does recognize two deities, the God and the Goddess, which are both nameless and Wiccans usually adopt names to refer to the two but the idea of a singular “nameless one” is foreign to Wicca. The fact that Voldemort is referred to as ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’ does not prove that he is one and the same with this supposed “nameless one”. Voldemort is a literary character in a fantasy novel. If Meyer wants to push this comparison, he can do so but for the sake of argument, I want to make one observation. If a Goddess in Wicca is nameless and a name is adopted to refer to that Goddess then this is not indicative of that Goddess’ real name. In the Harry Potter novels Voldemort is such a feared figure that people avoid saying his name. However this does not stop Harry Potter or Professor Dumbledore from calling him by his right name ‘Voldemort’. Dumbledore takes it a step further by calling Voldemort by his given name ‘Tom’, his full name being Tom Marvolo Riddle. Any potential similarity between Harry Potter and Wicca (either real Wicca or Meyer’s version of it) here is nonexistent.

Meyer tries to use numerology to prove that the Harry Potter novels are part of a Illuminst conspiracy to deceive children, training them to be witches, and thereby luring them into the occult. This is nothing new for him since he was a former “numerologist”. Of course Meyer would have us believe that it was the publishers of Harry Potter indulging in numerology when setting up their release dates for the publication of the novels. This is clear when he writes:

On July 8 at midnight, bookstores everywhere were stormed by millions of children to obtain the latest and fourth book of the series known as “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” These books were taken into homes everywhere with a real evil spirit following each copy to curse those homes. July 8th was also the 18th day (three sixes in numerology) from the witches’ sabat of midsummer. July 8th was also the 13th day from the signing of the United Religions Charter in San Francisco. Now we have learned that the public school system is planning to use the magic of Harry Potter in the classrooms making the public schools centers of witchcraft training.

This reminds me of the constant theories that the events of September 11, 2001 were part of a vast conspiracy by the Illuminati because of the number eleven. This is the same concept at work here in this tract. Numbers are being floated around and used to prove something that is not there. It is all a coincidence. Many fans and speculators thought that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was going to come out on July 7, 2007 or 07-07-07. The numbering could not be any more perfect because this was the seventh novel and a date like that would not appear again until another millennia. However Bloomsbury and Scholastic could not publish this book on that date (they claimed it was too soon from a publication standpoint) so they chose to release the book two weeks later on July 21, 2007. If you look closely at 07-21-07, you will see that 21 is three sevens in numerology. We all know that seven is the God-given number of perfection, right? The book of Revelation mentions the number seven 59 times (which equals fourteen or two sevens) and let's not forget that God created the world in seven days. I can go on and on but let me repeat what I said earlier. Numbers are being floated around and used to prove something that is not there. It is all a coincidence.

Finally Meyer never gives any details about what coven he was affiliated with if he was in fact a “witch” like he claims. There are no dates and locations and he only gives general details, “I lived by the stars as an astrologer and numerologist casting horoscopes and spells. I lived in the mysterious and shadowy realm of the occult. By means of spells and magic, I was able to invoke the powers of the “controlling unknown” and fly upon the night winds transcending the astral plane.” This last part intrigues me because it is very similar to a early Medieval belief that certain women rode at night with the Goddess Diana. The Canon Episcopi, a tenth century document, addressed this idea by calling it a delusion of Satan, “Some wild women, deluded by Satan, believe that they fly by night in the company of Diana, Goddess of the Pagans.” The image of the wild women or the wild hunt contributed to other beliefs of witches and combined with the socio-economic factors at the time, the Medieval stereotype of witches was formed, which led to the eventual witch hunts throughout Europe. I believe Meyer's words show that he is tapping into some stereotypical views of witches and if true would certainly call into question whether what he’s saying is true or if he made it up.

Meyer never proves his thesis that the Harry Potter novels are manuals for the occult. Instead he uses conspiracy, misinformation, and general facts twisted to serve a purpose which is to instill fear and hysteria in the reader of the Harry Potter novels. These tracts are circulated widely on the Internet and many well-meaning Christians use them as support for their rejection of Harry Potter on religious grounds. Laura Mallory is one of them. Not only that but Meyer tirades Christian leaders, Dr. James Dobson and Charles Colson for supporting Harry Potter and calls them “modern day Judas Iscariots”. This is tragic. Christians should not have to resort to ad hominem attacks and rely on falsehoods to prove an argument. As Christians, we are called to be a beacon of truth and light. We are not to use fear because God is not a spirit of fear. We are not to use falsehoods because God cannot lie. Tracts like these allow Christians to not be taken seriously with the end consequence being that our witness is stifled. In the end we are reading what David J. Meyer, not God, has to say about Harry Potter.


Christina said...

The name-calling directed at fellow Christians, especially fellow Christian leaders, is revolting. I can't believe people are listening to someone who is clearly full of nonsense and insult.

I'm reminded of that Bible verse addressing the six things the Lord hates, two items on the list being those who stir up dissention among brothers (i.e. fellow Christians) and those who spread lies.

Eeyore said...

Yes, it would seem that Meyer needs to go back and do some further study of the Bible, doesn't it.

I find it so sad when people, who are only trying to live as Jesus has taught, follow people who are themselves, so misguided--whehter intentionally or otherwise.

But one thing I've found is that it's the most frustrating thing in the world to try to discuss Harry Potter with someone who hasn't read it, or has only read selected passages, or they rely solely on someone else's version of what the story is about. It is the main reason I first bought the very first book back in 1999--I wanted to read for myself this children's book that was sitrring up so much animosity in the schools and churches. And I'm so glad that I did--I love all the books, and rather than finding some ominous message or intent, I've found themes that have led me into discussions with other Christians (and sometimes non-Christians) about good and evil, forgiveness, repentence, not to mention the obvious ones of friendship, loyalty, and as Dumbledore always mentions--making the right choice. If all the people like Mallory and Meyer would actually read the books, they'd find that rather than trying to turn children to something evil and dark, they reinforce making choices that are good and based on love.

I've not read anything by Meyer, but I did look at Mallory's web site, and the few quotes she uses from Harry Potter are totally out of context, and not even correct. She attributes the line that comes at the end of the first book about "there is only power" as a message the book is promoting, when it is coming from the representation of evil in the book, and she fails to mention that Harry flat out rejects that idea and never seeks power for himself.

But thanks for all the information. It's always good to know where the rumors are coming from when the subject comes up with my more conservative Christian friends.


Travis Prinzi said...

Well done. I came across this a few months ago and reviewed it in a podcast (this is far more thorough). Another excellent article.

bubbygirl said...

Hi. this was a very well thought out post. The other thing is, in wiccca male and females are all called witches. In hp there are witches and wizards. that's quite a difference as well. It's a shame that people have to spread lies and such to make people think the way they do.

I am a devoted Christian who feels that Harry Potter has helped me understand more deeply about the gospel not lead me in to the world of real witchcraft.


Glade Swope said...

Ever wonder how it would feel to be accused of "mocking god" BY AN AUTORESPONDER!" Their message also claimed that receiving this email was my last chance to be saved. Such a prediction sounds to me like real satanic witchcraft in every possible way. Ever heard of the psychological phenomenon called Projection? Maybe it's David J. Meyer who is following Tom Riddle? Also, did you know that he hates Narnia too? Dobson was actually afraid of HP a few years ago. I bet it was the final episode that changed his mind.

Glade Swope said...

bubbygirl said: "I am a devoted Christian who feels that Harry Potter has helped me understand more deeply about the gospel" Agreed. There is something fear-based religion does not want the public to know. I think what they are afraid of is the roots of the George MacDonald tradition and what they'd call "implied universalism" which is the biggest threat to their scheme of scaring people into grim conformity to rob 'em of their dollars.